Cherry

 

Starring Rick, arguably the most popular secondary character from the Love’s Evolution stories. Written because everyone, including me, wanted to see him get his man even though he had a HEA with an awesome woman. This was my solution 🙂

 

 

© Copyright 2009 Ally Blue

 

Rick Gonzalez grasped Tyler’s cock in one gloved hand and a long, slender clamp in the other. Pinching up the loose flesh just below the head of Tyler’s penis, Rick secured the clamp so that the skin stretched tight in the clamp’s opening.

Tyler whimpered. Rick glanced up into his wide eyes. “Hold still.”

Nodding, Tyler drew a deep breath and held it. He squeezed his eyes shut. Switching the clamp to his left hand, Rick reached for the piercing needle and pressed it through his customer’s frenum. Tyler yipped, but didn’t move. Removing the clamp, Rick slipped the barbell over the needle and pulled the needle through, sliding the jewelry into the new piercing at the same time. A matter of seconds later, he had the needle out and the other bead attached to the open end of the barbell, and that was that.

“Okay, we’re done.” Rick snapped off his gloves and tossed them in the trash. “Want to open your eyes and take a look?”

Tyler cracked open one eye, then the other. A grin spread over his face. “Awesome.”

“Pretty much.” Smiling, Rick stood, gathered his tools and carried them to the counter. He set them in the metal bin beside the autoclave. “Aftercare instructions are on the sheet you got when you signed the release form. If you—”

The door swung open. A young man in snug black jeans, a black leather biker’s jacket and a tight black T-shirt with “Boo” scrawled on it in white letters walked in. He stopped cold, his mouth falling open. “Oh, my God.”

Tyler yelped. “Hey!”

“Sorry, I’m sorry.” The boy’s brown eyes flicked toward the chair where Tyler lay with both hands cupped over his exposed privates. A fierce blush colored the boy’s copper cheeks. He looked at Rick instead. “I thought this was the bathroom.”

“Next room on the right.” Rick studied the young man’s heart-shaped face with far more interest than he should. God, but the kid was cute.

“Thanks.” The boy darted one more half-fascinated, half-horrified glance at Tyler, then fled the room, slamming the door behind him.

“Oookay. I hope Delilah won’t mind too much that some random dude saw the new jewelry before she did.” Swinging his legs over the side of the chair, Tyler stood, crossed the small room to where his jeans and underwear lay folded on a shelf and started pulling them on. “Thanks, man.”

“Sure thing. Give me a call if you have any questions, or any problems with the piercing.”

“‘Kay.” Tyler slapped Rick on the back on his way to the door. “See you.”

“Yeah, see you.” Rick waved as Tyler left the room.

He loaded his piercing tools into the autoclave and was busy swabbing off the chair when a knock sounded on the half-open door. “Yeah,” he called.

The door swung open and Matt Gallagher, one of Dragon’s Den’s tattoo artists, strolled in. “Hey, Rick. Can you take a walk-in?”

“I think so.” Rick tossed the wad of damp paper towels into the trash can. “My next appointment isn’t for another hour, right?”

“Right.”

“Then I’ll take the walk-in.” Rick leaned his butt against the counter. “What’re they getting?”

“Both nipples and his cock. Frenum. Funny thing, but he was only gonna get the nips done at first. He added on the dick piercing after he went to the bathroom.” Matt flashed a typically evil grin. “Must’ve been some piss.”

Rick didn’t answer. His mouth had gone bone dry. Guess I know who my next customer’s gonna be.

For some reason, the thought of holding the sweet-faced stranger’s cock in his hand made his pulse pound in double time. Which was just wrong.

He thumbed his wedding band and silently ordered his prick to lie there like a good boy and behave itself.

“Rick?” Frowning, Matt took a step toward him. “You all right?”

“Yeah, fine.” Rick forced a smile he hoped like hell looked more casual than it felt. “You can send him in whenever he gets the paperwork done.”

“Cool. He’s filling it out now, it shouldn’t be long. Oh, and he already paid too.” Matt left, shooting Rick a narrow-eyed look as he went.

As soon as Matt was out of sight, Rick busied himself setting up a new tray with the tools he’d need for a double male nipple and frenum piercing. He had to get a grip on himself before his customer came in. He was married, for fuck’s sake. Not that he was above appreciating the eye candy. In fact, he and his wife, Deb, sometimes liked to go “sightseeing” (as Deb called it) together. She claimed that ogling hot guys as a couple was the best part of being married to a bisexual man. Somehow, though, Rick thought she might not be so understanding if he got off on piercing a cute, barely-legal boy’s dick. Especially if she wasn’t there to watch.

He’s probably not even that good looking. You just didn’t get a good enough look, that’s all.

“Um. Hello?”

Startled, Rick whirled around. The boy from before stood in the doorway, shoulders hunched and both hands jammed into his jacket pockets. Shaggy black hair fell over his eyes and brushed the nape of his neck. He caught his plump lower lip between his teeth and stared at the toes of his ragged black sneakers.

He was just as adorable as Rick remembered. More, even.

Dammit.

The kid looked like he was about to turn tail and run. Shaking himself out of his paralysis, Rick strode forward with a smile and a hand held out. “Hey. I’m Rick Gonzalez, I’ll be doing your piercing. What’s your name?”

“Uh. Lowell. Lowell Hicks.” Lowell took Rick’s hand and shook. “Thanks for  doing me.”

“Sure.” I’d like to do you. Rick watched Lowell shrug out of his jacket. Damn, but the kid was hiding a nice body under that oversized leather. Rick gave him a slow once-over, taking in the lean, slender frame and bronze-tone skin. “Hicks. Cherokee, right?”

“Yeah.” Lowell looked around the room. “Where do I put my jacket?”

“You can put your clothes on the shelf over there.” Rick took the jacket, folded it and laid it on the shelf. “Why don’t you go ahead and take off your shirt and get in the chair there? We’ll do your nipples first.”

Lowell’s face turned deep pink. He licked his lips. “Oh. Okay.”

Rick went to the sink to wash his hands. He pretended not to watch while Lowell peeled off his form-fitting T-shirt. Lowell’s chest was firm, sleek and hairless. The urge to stroke his ungloved palms over that flawless skin twitched down Rick’s arms.

Turning away, Rick grabbed a pair of gloves out of the box on the counter and pulled them on. Be professional, you jackass. No groping the customers.

Rick turned around again. Lowell sat in the adjustable chair with his hands clasped together in his lap in a white-knuckled grip. Rick rolled the instrument tray into position, then adjusted the chair height with a few pumps of the foot pedal. “What kind of jewelry do you want? Did Matt show you what we have, or you need me to go over the options?”

“He showed me.” Lowell peered at his own chest. “I want the curved barbells in my nipples, and the straight barbell in my… um. You know.”

Rick grinned. “Yeah, I know.” And how fucking cute was it that Lowell couldn’t even say it?

And how wrong is it that you think that’s cute, you perv?

He crossed to the drawer where he kept the body jewelry, fished out what he needed and added the three barbells to his tray. “I have some numbing gel here I can put on you if you want. It’ll help with the pain.”

“Is that the same stuff like they use at the dentist?”

“Yeah.”

“Oh.” Lowell gave Rick an apologetic smile. “No thanks.”

“Hey, it’s your call. Lots of people like to experience the pain, either to prove something to themselves or just because they like it.” Rick leaned closer, examining Lowell’s flat brown nipples. He gave each a gentle pinch, enough to make them pebble. He managed to ignore his body’s reaction to the soft little sound Lowell let out. “You sure you don’t want to use the gel? I gotta tell you, man, there’s not much flesh here. It’s gonna hurt some. Nothing horrible, but some. The gel would help.”

Lowell flinched, but shook his head. “I’m allergic.”

“Oh. Sorry, man.” Rick studied Lowell’s face. God, those lips looked soft. Sweet. Kissable. Stop that. “You still want to do this?”

“Yeah.” The pretty lips curved into a smile that lit up Lowell’s face and did not a damn thing to dispel Rick’s urge to kiss him. “I always promised myself I’d get my nipples pierced for my twenty-first birthday. I knew it would hurt. It’s okay.”

“Well, don’t worry. Like I said, the pain’s not awful, and it’s only for a second.” Picking up a packet of alcohol swabs, Rick tore it open and started cleaning Lowell’s nipples. The familiarity of the action helped bring him back to his professional self. Thank God. “So. Twenty-one today, huh?”

“Yep.”

“A Halloween baby, too.” Rick couldn’t resist a grin and a wink. “Happy birthday.”

Lowell beamed, his cheeks going bright red. “Thanks.”

Rick swallowed hard. Jesus. Why in the hell had he suddenly developed a thing for sweet young pretty boys? He’d bet his last dollar this kid was still a virgin.

And fuck if his prick didn’t like that idea way more than he was comfortable with.

Dammit, dammit, dammit.

Tossing the last swab in the trash, Rick started opening the sterile equipment on his tray. “Any big plans for tonight?”

“Some of my friends are taking me out to LaRue’s.”

Rick’s eyebrows shot up. LaRue’s Backdoor didn’t cater exclusively to a gay crowd, but it leaned heavily that way. He wondered if Lowell knew that. He also wondered if Lowell knew about the drag shows, or if his friends were saving that as a surprise.

Lowell kept talking. “They’re having a special Halloween themed show tonight. My friend Ross is performing. He does a wicked Elvira.”

Well, I guess that answers that question. For some reason, the thought of this innocent looking Cherokee boy at one of LaRue’s drag shows did not-so-innocent things to Rick’s crotch.

“Sounds like a good time.” Ignoring the growing ache between his legs, Rick picked up his clamp in one hand and laid the other on Lowell’s chest. “Okay, Lowell. I’m going to use this clamp to stretch out your nipple, then push the needle through. That’s the hard part. After that, I’ll use the needle to get the jewelry into place. Then I’ll do the other nipple. You ready?”

Lowell’s brown eyes were round as saucers, but he nodded. “Let’s do this.”

Rick never blamed anyone for a flinch, or a yelp, or even the occasional scream. Body piercings could be painful, especially for guys with nipples as small and flat as Lowell’s. But Lowell didn’t even twitch when the needles went through. Didn’t make the slightest sound. Rick admired that.

He absolutely did not wish the kid would’ve gasped just a little, or maybe moaned a tiny bit. Because wishing something like that would be weird and disturbing.

Rick deposited the second needle in the disposal bucket. “You did good there, Lowell.”

“Nothing to it.” Lowell’s voice sounded rough. He flashed a brave smile that made Rick want to strip him bare and do depraved things to him.

Which just made it more difficult to say what he had to say next without it sounding like a come-on. “I’ll need you to take your pants off now.”

Lowell blinked at him. “Huh?”

“Well, yeah. If you want your, um. Your penis pierced.” Rick licked his lips, but he managed to keep looking at Lowell’s face instead of staring at his crotch. “You can just pull your pants down, if you want. You don’t have to take them totally off. I just need the clothes out of the way, is all.”

“Oh. Yeah.” Lowell chewed his bottom lip. “Okay.” He flipped open the button on his jeans and tugged down the zipper. Lifting his hips, he wriggled his pants and underwear down his thighs.

Holy hell. Rick silently appealed to various deities in whom he did not believe to lend him strength. He found the sight of Lowell naked except for his pants tangled around his knees way more exciting than was professionally appropriate.

Rick cleared his throat. “All right. This is a lot like the nipple piercing. First I’m going to clean the area. Then I’ll clamp off the skin using a special clamp. Then I’ll pierce with the needle and slide the barbell in just like I did before. It might hurt a little bit, but not as much as the nipple piercing did. Okay?”

Lowell nodded. “I’m ready when you are.”

Was it Rick’s imagination, or did the boy actually sound eager? Not that it was unheard of—hell, Rick had friends who practically clanked when they walked because they got off on the brief pain of being pierced—but Lowell didn’t seem like the type.

Rick wondered if he should revise that opinion when he took hold of Lowell’s cock to clean it and it started swelling in his hand.

Fucking fuck.

Rick swallowed. Swallowed again. His pulse thudded in his skull so loud he was sure Lowell must hear it, but he couldn’t bring himself to look up and see. Christ, if he saw lust in those wide brown eyes right now he’d come in his pants.

Using every ounce of self-control he possessed, Rick forced himself to follow procedure and tried not to think of the heat of Lowell’s cock seeping through his glove. Or the fact that he could feel Lowell’s heartbeat against his fingers. And he especially tried not to think of how much he wanted to curl his hand around Lowell’s shaft and stroke, make him moan and writhe and God, oh God, make him come.

It didn’t work. The more Rick tried not to think of it, the more the thought tried to take over his brain.

Get a grip, Rick. You have a guy’s most sacred part in your hand, with a clamp on it, getting ready to shove a needle through it. Stop thinking about jerking him off and pay attention to what you’re doing.

“Okay, Lowell, here we go.” Rick poised the needle at the spot he’d marked. “Deep breath.”

A moment’s firm pressure, and the needle penetrated the skin stretched between the blades of the clamp. Lowell let out a soft little sound that had Rick biting his lip to keep from echoing it. He kept his attention resolutely fixed on moving the clamp out of the way, then getting the stainless steel barbell into the new piercing. Only when the jewelry was in place and the needle disposed of did he risk a glance at Lowell’s face.

He instantly wished he hadn’t. The boy’s eyes were closed, his lips parted, his cheeks gorgeously flushed. Hell, he looked more like he’d just been fucked than gotten his dick pierced.

And, yeah, that was the wrong wrong wrong thing to think, because mental images of Lowell getting fucked weren’t doing a damn thing to make Rick’s hard-on go away.

While Rick still sat there staring, Lowell’s eyes opened with a couple of slow blinks. The corners of his mouth tilted up in a just-been-ravished smile. “Done?”

Rick gave himself a mental shake. “Yeah, you’re done.” Forcing a smile in return, Rick peeled off his gloves and dropped them in the trash. “Once again, you did great. You’re one tough dude, my friend.”

“It wasn’t bad.” Lowell slid off the chair and carefully hauled his pants up. “You’re really good at what you do, Rick.” He glanced down Rick’s body, and his smile widened.

Fuck. Feeling rattled, Rick went to the sink to wash his hands. And hopefully hide the way-too-obvious boner tenting the front of his jeans. Not that it mattered at this point, since he was pretty sure Lowell had already seen, but still. He didn’t have to flaunt it.

“Okay. Um.” A faint tremor ran through Rick’s voice. He tried again, and was relieved to hear himself sound a little more normal. “Aftercare instructions are on the paper you got when you signed out front. You can wash the piercings in the shower with anti-bacterial soap once a day and clean them with warm water if they get crusty or anything. Otherwise, hands off, and no sex for a week. After that, you’ll need to use a condom until the frenum’s completely healed.”

“I looked over the instructions out in the lobby. I think I can manage.”

Lowell’s voice sounded much closer than it should. Heart racing, Rick turned around. Lowell stood so close Rick could see tiny flecks of gold in his eyes. Rick gulped. “Oh. Well. Good.”

A determined expression crossed Lowell’s face. Before Rick could figure out what it meant, Lowell rose on tiptoe and kissed him.

It was over before Rick had time to overcome his shock. Which was just as well, because he wasn’t at all sure he could’ve stopped himself from crushing Lowell close and giving him a kiss he’d never forget.

Lowell drew back with a fire in his eyes that made Rick’s heart thump. “Thanks, Rick.” Stepping over to the shelf, he picked up his jacket and shrugged it on, then stuffed his T-shirt in one of the pockets. “See you around, I hope.” He strode out the door before Rick could manage a single word.

Rick touched his fingers to his lips where Lowell had kissed him. Fuck, he kissed me. Rick could still feel the softness of the boy’s lips against his. Could still smell the faint scents of sweat and Axe body spray.

The memory of that brief, chaste kiss set Rick’s blood on fire. His cock, hard as stone inside his jeans, throbbed once, as if begging for relief. Which it wouldn’t be getting any time soon, since Rick still had four more hours to work.

Groaning, he covered his face with his hands. It was going to be a long afternoon.

*****

That night, Rick strolled barefoot through the narrow wooded strip of land surrounding Montford Park. He wore his favorite pair of faded jeans, the ones with the holes in the knees. He’d left his hair loose. It drifted in the cool October breeze, tickling his bare chest and the small of his back. Out in the park, Deb’s coven gathered around a huge bonfire in the middle of the baseball diamond, to celebrate Samhain. He could just make out the gleam of her red hair in the firelight.

“Rick.”

The soft voice sent shivers up his spine. He turned. Lowell padded toward him through the trees, naked and oh God hard. The barbells embedded in his cock and nipples glinted in the fitful moonlight leaking through the branches overhead. He paced through a carpet of fallen leaves leached gray by the night, his feet impossibly soundless, until he stood close enough for Rick to feel the heat of his body.

Feeling bold, Rick planted his hands on Lowell’s hips and drew him close. Lowell wound his arms around Rick’s neck and tilted his face up, and then his mouth was on Rick’s, warm and wet and open, and their tongues curled together and fuck it was good. Rick slid both hands down, around, cupping Lowell’s firm little butt in his palms. Lowell moaned, low and sweet, his hands clenching in Rick’s hair, and Rick had to fight the need to come.

“Fuck me, Rick,” Lowell whispered into Rick’s mouth.

Rick’s knees wobbled. “But… But you…” You’re a virgin, he didn’t quite manage to say. You can’t possibly want me to pop your cherry in Montford Park. We don’t even have a bed.

Lowell smiled, brown eyes shining. “I want you to be my first. I want you to bend me over your chair and fuck my ass.”

My chair? Frowning, Rick glanced over his shoulder. Sure enough, his piercing chair sat there between two huge oaks, lit by a beam of moonlight. Beside it, a large bottle of liquid lube and an assortment of sex toys sat on top of his equipment tray.

Oh, Jesus fucking Christ.

When Lowell drew out of his arms, took his hand and led him to the improbable chair, Rick followed on shaking legs. Somewhere along the way, he realized his jeans were gone and he was now as naked as Lowell.

He didn’t mind. It saved time. He cupped his balls in his free hand and pictured Lowell bent over the piercing chair with Rick pounding into him from behind.

Lowell slipped both arms around Rick’s waist and kissed him again when they reached the chair. He nipped at Rick’s bottom lip as they pulled apart. “I can’t wait to have your cock inside me, Rick.”

Hell yeah. Rick smoothed both palms over Lowell’s flat belly. “Turn around, sweet thing. Bend over.”

With a long, smoldering look that turned Rick molten inside, Lowell obeyed.  He laid his chest flat on the chair, left cheek against the plastic, both hands gripping the arm on the opposite side. His right eye swiveled toward Rick, and the corner of his mouth curved upward in clear invitation.

Heat pooled between Rick’s legs. He leaned over to plant a tender kiss on Lowell’s cheek. Another behind his ear. One on the curve of his neck. A whole row trailing from one shoulder to the other. His skin felt warm and silky beneath Rick’s lips. When Rick traced Lowell’s spine with his tongue, he tasted the faint salt flavor of dried sweat. Growling, he sank his teeth into the hard muscle behind Lowell’s shoulder blade.

Lowell arched backward with a hiss. “Rick. Please.”

Need gave Lowell’s voice a low rasp that Rick found dead sexy. Peeling himself off Lowell’s back, Rick grabbed the bottle of lube and poured a generous portion into his palm. Way more than he needed, in fact. A globule fell from his hand to splatter against the skin of Lowell’s lower back. It slid down his side, leaving behind a wet trail that shimmered in the low light.

Rick pictured his semen spurting over Lowell’s skin and had to grasp the base of his cock hard with his unlubed hand to keep from coming. No way was he letting himself shoot until he’d gotten his prick inside that sweet, tight, untouched-until-now ass. Lowell wanted it, wanted Rick to take his virginity, and Rick was determined to give Lowell what he wanted.

Yeah, like you don’t want it as bad as he does.

Rick gave a mental shrug. So he wanted it too. They’d both get what they wanted, then. Nothing wrong with that.

Letting go of his cock, Rick spread Lowell open and smeared lube over the tiny whorl of his hole. He pushed into Rick’s touch with a moan that tore a matching one from Rick’s throat.

Fuck, but he loved the sounds Lowell made. Those totally unselfconscious noises, innocent and hot at the same time. He wanted to hear more of them. With that in mind, Rick got his middle finger in position and pressed slowly, gently past the ring of muscle and into Lowell’s ass.

Lowell gasped. His spine bowed, his fingers digging into the arms of the chair. “Oh, God, yes,” he breathed before Rick could ask if he was all right. “Feels so good.”

“Yeah?” Rick pumped his finger carefully in and out, in and out. He found Lowell’s prostate on the third go, and grinned when Lowell keened and flailed one arm helplessly in the air. “You like that?”

“Mmmm, oooooh, my God.” Lowell’s hand landed on the backrest of the chair and dug in, the muscles of his back standing out hard and tense in the gloom. “Do… Do that again. More fingers.”

Rick happily obliged. Two fingers up his ass made Lowell wail loudly enough to send some unknown night bird fluttering away from the tree above them with an indignant twitter. Lowell’s hole gripped Rick’s fingers so hard he could feel his pulse in his fingertips. He bit his lip and tried not to think of that snug heat enfolding his cock. No fucking until the ass was prepared. That was the rule. Especially with a virgin, for fuck’s sake. And Lowell was still way too tight.

The thought had barely crossed his mind when the boy’s hole fluttered and opened up like magic. Rick’s fingers slid easily in and out. He spread them apart, prompting a lustful little whimper from Lowell.

“Ah, oh God. Can’t wait, Rick.” Pushing Rick’s hand away, Lowell straightened, turned and flopped backward onto the chair. He lifted his legs up, reaching beneath himself to spread his ass open. “Fuck me.”

Lowell’s hole pulsed open, closed, open again. His cock lay thick and rigid against his belly, his balls drawn up tight to his body. Even in the thin, watery light, Rick could see the flush of desire staining his cheeks.

Rick gulped. How in the name of all things holy and not-so-much could any man resist something so beautiful? Rick sure as hell couldn’t. Grabbing the lube, he slicked another handful over his prick, aimed for the inviting little space between Lowell’s buttocks and buried himself balls-deep with one thrust.

It felt amazing. No, Rick mentally amended as he grasped Lowell’s hips and starting moving, to the soundtrack of Lowell’s moans and “oh God”s. Not just amazing. Way beyond amazing.

Stupendous.

Rapturous, even.

Lowell’s ass clenched around him, and he thought maybe he got religion.

His mom would be thrilled.

Or not, considering. He snickered.

Lowell braced both feet on Rick’s chest. “Harder.”

Yeah, baby! Rick flashed his most salacious smile. “I can do that.”

Slowly, Rick leaned forward, letting Lowell’s legs come to rest on his shoulders, and grasped the arm rest behind Lowell’s head. He pulled out until only the head of his cock remained in Lowell’s ass, then rocked his pelvis forward.

Lowell nearly came out of the chair. Would have, Rick figured, if he hadn’t been so busy doing his pretzel imitation. As it was, Lowell shook and moaned and made Rick see stars for a second when he kicked him in the side of the head. He clung to Rick’s upper arms with a bruising grip.

“Feels good, doesn’t it?” Rick panted.

Lowell let out a broken half-sob. “Rick. God.”

He was close. Rick could tell. The ripple of Lowell’s insides around him sent Rick hurtling toward the edge of orgasm himself.

Shifting his weight to his left arm, he curled his right hand around Lowell’s cock and started stroking hard and fast, as much in time with his thrusts as he could manage. “C’mon, sweet thing. Come.”

Lowell’s half-shut eyelids popped open. He stared straight into Rick’s eyes for one endless, searing second, then arched his back and cried out as he came all over his stomach and Rick’s hand. His ass clamped down on Rick’s cock. Rick came with a whine and a full-body shudder.

Lowell reached up and pulled him into a deep, searching kiss. Rick lost himself in it, in the taste of Lowell’s mouth, Lowell’s body warm and pliant beneath his. God, it was good. Rick never wanted it to end.

Bing-bong.

Rick drew back with an effort. “What the hell was that?”

Smiling, Lowell caressed Rick’s cheek. “It’s your real life calling, Rick. Better go answer it.”

Huh? Rick frowned. The bing-bong sounded again. For some reason, it sounded familiar this time. Rick groaned. “Oh, hell.”

… He woke with a start. The house was dark, except for the single lamp he’d left on. The book he’d been reading lay face down on the floor beside the sofa.

He sat up, yawning. The stickiness at his groin told him the dream hadn’t just been good, it’d been really good.

The doorbell rang again. “Hello!” a high-pitched voice called. “Trick or treat! Mom, I don’t think anybody’s home.”

Rick snorted. He hadn’t had a wet dream since high school, and didn’t it just have to be now? “Just a minute,” he called. Surely to God he had something laying around that he could put on to cover up the spunk stain on his jeans.

Rising to his feet, he glanced around the room. An oversized flannel shirt lay draped over a nearby chair. He snagged it and started toward the front door, pulling the shirt on as he went.

As he passed the mirror on the wall, he stopped in his tracks, the shirt hanging off his elbows, and stared at his reflection.

Fresh bruises marred the skin of his upper arms. Bruises like finger marks.

An image from his dream came back to him—fucking Lowell in the piercing chair, Lowell’s legs over his shoulders and Lowell’s fingers digging hard into his upper arms.

Hard enough to leave bruises.

Rick didn’t know the how or why of it, but he saw no reason to question a good thing just because he didn’t understand it.

Smiling, he touched one of the marks on his arm. “Happy Halloween, Lowell.”